United Airlines settles employment discrimination case: Agrees to pay $270,000 in fines and back pay

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United Airlines settles employment discrimination case: Agrees to pay $270,000 in fines and back pay

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United Airlines reached a settlement regarding an employment discrimination claim.  The Justice Department alleged that Continental Airlines, which has since merged with United Airlines, committed unfair documentary practices in violation of 8 U.S.C. §1324b(a)(6) by requiring specific or extra documentation of employment eligibility for noncitizens.  The airline was alleged to have been requesting extra documents and affirmations from work authorized noncitizens who had already presented sufficient documents for purposes of the I-9.

The settlement agreement stated that going forward, the airline would “comply with the terms of 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(6), which prohibits refusing to honor documents that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine, or requesting more or different documents than are required under 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(b)…”

In addition to the $215,000 that the airline has to pay the government, it is required to create a $55,000 fund to pay back pay to workers who lost wages because of the company’s practices.

This settlement agreement is another cautionary tale for employers, whose first instinct with hiring foreign nationals may be to over-document or require specific documents from the noncitizens.  Such practices, however, can open the company up to liability for national origin-based discrimination.

Joseph & Hall P.C. assists employers with compliance on I-9 completion and routinely performs audits of I-9 forms and training to human resources departments on the proper completion and storage of I-9 records. We also assist employers on responses to I-9 notice of inspection, notices of intent to fine, raids and criminal enforcement actions.

Employers looking for assistance in I-9 compliance and in minimizing liability associated with I-9 verification should contact Joseph & Hall P.C. for a consultation.

Further reading related to this story:

The Chicago Tribune article

DOJ Press Release

Settlement Agreement

Joseph & Hall P.C. Page on IRCA Compliance and I-9 Audits

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